The question is a bit shocking. Although people in other professions do it all the time, librarians and teachers rarely consider changing jobs unless they aren’t rehired. It is probably related to tenure which makes us never think of the possibility.
There are three reasons to start thinking about finding a new job. The reasons range from the obvious to the surprising –at least for those of us in education. (And even if you don’t fall into any of the three categories, it’s wise to be prepared.)
The most obvious reason is moving. Your spouse got a transfer or for some other reason, you are going to be pulling up stakes and moving too far away to continue in your current job. Finding a new position can be challenging particularly if you are changing states. You need to research and network.
The research will tell you how complicated it will be to move your certification to your new location and how to go about it. You can also find out about which are the best school districts and salary scales. Networking involves connecting to the school library association. You can’t get on their listserv if you aren’t a member, so join quickly. Introduce yourself there and on their Facebook page which they are most likely to have. Ask about job openings. This is not a time to be shy.
The second reason is you dread going to work most days. Everyone has some bad days, but if you rarely have a good one, it is time to move on. Maybe your workload keeps increasing. No matter what you try, your administration only thinks of you when they have another job you can take on. Your teachers are so exhausted and demoralized they can’t possibly collaborate with you. The school culture, which I wrote about last week, also will inform this situation.
This is when you need to accept the truth that you are no longer doing well by your students or your teachers. Your schedule keeps you from doing the things that were why you became a librarian. Your first step is to start checking your state association’s listserv. If you see any vendors let them know you are looking. January is a good time of year as districts will soon be getting ready to hire for the fall.
The final reason I’m going to offer is not obvious. Most of us can see the proverbial handwriting on the wall but few act on it. These are the times you know things are almost undoubtedly going to go downhill, but you just stay put. It’s like knowing a train wreck is coming and doing nothing about it. Sometimes you need to trust yourself and take a big leap no matter how scary it seems.
I lived through this. I had been in a district for twenty-two years. The last five or so I had a principal who was an egotistical bully and a liar. But I had great teachers and a strong program. I also had a superintendent of schools who always knew what was happening everywhere in the district. She was the one who had transferred me to the high school six years before this principal showed up because she liked what I was bringing to the educational community.
Then my superintendent announced she was retiring in two years. I immediately called her and said I was job hunting. She urged me to stay, but I could read that handwriting clearly. The assistant superintendent would get her job and stay for three years to get a larger pension. He was a nice guy but had nowhere near her strength or vision.
Once he was gone my principal would become the superintendent of schools and my life would be all about managing him and working to keep him from undermining my program. Dealing with him would drain so much of my energy, it would affect all aspects of my job. And it would affect my home life likely leading me to come home so angry at his latest tactic I would rant and rave to my husband. I knew he would just tell me to quit.
No sense in waiting for his advice. I decided to act. There was going to be a workshop on the automation system we used at one library in a great school district. I let the librarian who was hosting know I was job hunting, and she said she was retiring at the end of the school year. I made the necessary contact with the district’s H.R. department and had an interview scheduled for a few hours before the workshop. By the end of the week, I had a job offer and a signed contract. When I told my superintendent, she asked me to give the principal a chance and to talk with him.
My meeting with him quickly proved me right. He had no trouble or issues with my leaving. He told me he had done their Middle States Evaluation and talked about their great budget. Since it would be a much longer drive to work, he suggested I try audiobooks.
I had a wonderful time in my new district and discovered how much I had learned over the years. When I would return for retirement parties at my old district, I found out I had correctly read the situation there. Four years later, my former principal was the Superintendent of Schools. And the teachers kept telling me how smart I was for getting out.
Yes, I lost my tenure. But I knew that I wouldn’t want to work for any district that didn’t grant me tenure. What I really gave up was my sick days, but only in the short run. It was worth it.
Next week I will blog on how to get the job you want.